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Your Nose Knows: Six Vehicle Warning Signs You Can Smell

Most vehicles start out with a "new car smell," but there are other specific odors that motorists should never ignore. Identifying these suspect smells early on can help car owners be car care aware and avoid the hassle and expense of an unexpected breakdown, says the Car Care Council.

"Unusual smells can be the sign of serious, and potentially costly, trouble for your vehicle. By acting quickly and making necessary repairs, you'll be able to breathe easy knowing there is no harmful damage to your car," said Rich White, executive director, Car Care Council.

The Car Care Council recommends a sniff test of your vehicle to identify any unusual smells, including the following six warning signs:

  1. The smell of burnt rubber could be slipping drive belts or misplaced loose hoses that might be rubbing against rotating accessory drive pulleys. Do not reach in if the engine compartment is hot.
  2. The smell of hot oil could mean that oil is leaking onto the exhaust system. To verify the leak, look for oil on the pavement or smoke coming from the engine area.
  3. The smell of gasoline is likely the sign of a gas leak in some area of the vehicle such as a fuel injector line or the fuel tank. Any smell of fuel can result in a possible fire hazard, so immediate attention should be given.
  4. The sweet smell of syrup may be a sign that your car is leaking engine coolant from a leaky component related to the car's cooling system. Do not open the radiator cap when it is hot.
  5. The smell of burning carpet could be a sign of brake trouble and a safety hazard. Have your brakes checked right away, especially if this smell is happening during normal driving conditions.
  6. The smell of rotten eggs is never a good one and, if you smell it coming from your vehicle, it could mean a problem with your catalytic converter not converting the hydrogen sulfide in the exhaust to sulfur dioxide properly. This smell can also be attributed to a poor running engine, causing the catalytic converter to become overloaded and fail due to meltdown.

"When you smell any peculiar odor, you should not ignore it. Instead bring your vehicle to a professional service technician that you trust to get an informed opinion on the nature of the odor," concluded White.

Source: Car Care Council

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Dylan is amazing!! Wonderful service! Wouldn't go anywhere else with our cars. Great guy, great business, highly recommended!
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A+ experience and I am critical and skeptical of mechanics. Dylan and his team are very personable, never hesitate to take the time to discuss issues and options with you. Very honest and straightforward and some of the lowest prices I've seen. Couldn't be happier knowing I have a dependable mechanic in my town. Thank you Dylan. Give him a try, I highly doubt you'll ever take your car elsewhere.
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Real honest crew! They found the issue, gave me a great price, and completely satisfied all my vehicle needs. I will continue to use Dylan's in the future. Definitely would recommend this place to anyone.
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I was referred to Dylan's for electrical work by another local shop that I trust. I would recommend Dylan's to anyone looking for fair-priced, skilled automotive repairs. Plus, they are very honest and friendly.
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Dylan is a straight shooter! Does great work at a fair price!!
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Over a year ago my driver side window regulator stopped working. Brought my van into Dylan's for repair. Last week the new regulator broke. I rarely drive my van. Only driven around 3000 miles in 18 months. Dylan's repaired the window for no charge even though it was a bit out of warranty because of the little use the window had. Thank you Dylan's for backing up your work, and parts!! I appreciate that you took the extra step with my vans window issue. You have definitely earned my gratitude, and loyalty!